9 Things I Learned Running Daily For 21 Days

Date – 7th June 2020.

The chase starts tomorrow

The Challenge

  • Walk and/or Run for 1-2 hours for the next 21 days while continuing my Intermittent Fasting regime.
  • Journal the day to day experience and share in public to discuss the mental and physical state I go through, the ups and downs, the pain, and the ultimate pleasure when I complete the challenge.
  • Make a blog post and make things public to ensure accountability and to let interested souls know you need to begin. That drops make oceans.

Simple! isn’t it?

I guess, not that simple. This is all about self-commitment and to ensure that I keep up my words, I am making this public. You see, this is how we become answerable, and more than anything, I have a stronger reason for doing this.

Why This Challenge?

Well, at last, I began.

For a long time now, I have been thinking of making myself physically and mentally capable of participating in endurance races. I think it is human to try to upgrade to a better version, each time. That is how, maybe, we are programmed. Anyways, as it happens for many of us, the new year came with lot of self-determination and self-commitment mental sessions. But only a few plans could be started and even fewer could be continued.

One of them which I hung around this year was running. I wish to run a few full marathons ( I have been thinking this since new year eve 2018) and I had to begin somewhere. And I had started long walks ranging between 5-9 kilometers to get accustomed to walking and eventually running, on a daily basis. It used to be thrice a week at the most and at every opportunity to walk some distance.

Then I decided, in a week’s time, I need to start running. By this time, Coronavirus had begun invasion in India and before I could begin a LOCKDOWN was called upon.

Do you know how it feels?

Frustrating! Very frustrating!

Nonetheless, I knew, if I stand with this excuse now, I will stay here forever never even giving it a try. I had to begin. So without giving myself any further excuses, I started walking on my terrace since March 22nd. Some times I would do 3 km and at times 7 km in 2 hours.

And as things, with the Lockdown started loosening, I decided to go for this 21 day challenge. And ultimately, on the 8th of June 2020, the 21 Day without excuse walk/run challenge begun.

The Goal Of The Challenge

The Goal is to put the stepping stone to consider a marathon run after 15th October 2020.

The goal is also to learn to commit and stick to the same despite physical displeasure and unwillingness to continue. Commitment! Determination! Focus! Willingness to give it all, it takes!

Running long distances, for several hours with a consistent speed is an act of mental as well as physical commitment. The mental strength to stick to self-commitments, I taught myself, when I began my fasting journey in October 2017. From finding it impossible to fast for 12 hours a day to water fasting for 96 plus has been achieved by sticking to commitments mentally. Now is the time to get to the next level.

Reason To Document The Challenge

I am one of many of us who has invested data and time and consumed loads of motivational content from achievers in this world. The world where they say ” You can achieve anything provided you are committed, disciplined, focused and above all willing to give all it takes.” And fairly so. But the moment we close the video and are faced with the daily routine of life, we tend to become weaker, and eventually, like a trashed new year resolution, those inspirations take a back seat while we continue our lives without bringing about any change which we aspired for.

Not fair!

Life is beautiful and I presume if I have one known reason for why life is – its to EVOLVE and be our better selves. Be it learning, acquiring knowledge, implementing a business plan, or having better health, and acquiring good habits. Above all, there is great pleasure in achieving what you aspire for.

I always had this question, why is that we give up midway. Why is that no amount of motivational videos and speeches and quotes help us skipping the gym or not start a business which we are sure would do great, should we give it all it takes.

I got one strong reason.

The Issue With Motivational Videos

While, we have people narrating stories of how they began and achieved what they wanted to, ideally, we summarize the painful moments, the determination, the sufferings in the process in few lines, and talk more about how it is to be at the helm of things. And as human nature is, we are always looking for a positive climax more than the pain it took to reach there. Happy endings, you see! 😀

But I needed someone to tell me about the journey more than where they are now. Then I stumbled upon, a Tom Bilyeu interview with David Goggins, a year back. That was it! He is one man who discusses his sufferings more than what he has achieved. That man is an epitome of human endurance level and the best part he has no list of to-dos to achieve. He simply defined – its painful and should you want to be a better version of you, it has to be a continuous process. No rest! No cheats! No shortcuts!

Date – 28th June 2020

The Completion

Right now, it is 12:50 am while I am typing this so technically it is 29th of June. I completed the 21 days today. June is a rainy month and while I managed running and walking all these days, today it was real test of my commitment as it rained and drizzled almost throughout. The mornings were clear but except for the first week, I normally walked and ran during evenings. Today it costed me a lot. I just did a formality of walking amid the drizzles of 1.21 km while I had a plan of 21 km today. In fact, even yesterday, I was all prepared for a 21 km run and while I had completed about 4.5 km it rained so much so that I got totally drenched in water and had to return completing about 8km only.

Nonetheless, I am satisfied, for I kept my words to myself. The lowest stat was of today 1.2 km in more than 16 mins as per the app and the highest has been 16.8 km in the first of the second week.

Summary of 21 days

The first week was more of walking, long hours of walking, and 25 percent of running. Too much tiredness and sweating. The first week, my legs hurt a lot. Very difficult beginnings. In the first week, I completed about 60 km and 80 percent was walking. On the 6th or the 7th day, I had blisters on the left foot but healed up faster than anticipated.

The second week was the best with over 80 km covered and more than 50 km was running.

In the third week, I felt much like a pro after I would complete about 2 km of run. I could run longer with consistent breath while running. Last week ended with 54 km with over 40 km of running.

The best part, I ran and walked under the scorching sun, cool breeze and even all drenched in water as it rained and drizzled many a day. I ran, walked, and even dragged myself in the early mornings, evenings, and late evenings and I did not quit.

I am now confident of a 5 km run and can attempt a 10 km run as well.

Date – 1st of July 2020

Some Running Stats as per the running app I used

  • Total Distance Covered – Around 190 km
  • Longest Distance Covered – 16.85 km
  • Longest Duration Spent – 2hrs 31mins 35 secs
  • Best 1k – 5.25 mins/km
  • Best 1 mile – 5.54 mins/km
  • Best 5k – 6.51 mins/km
  • Best 10k – 7.56 mins/km
  • Bodyweight was 69kgs ( my height is 5.8 inches) increased to 71(I started binge eating during the eating windows after the first 3 days of running) and reduced to 67.5kgs( when I went back to strict 2 meals during eating window)

What I followed alongside running

  • I found a pair of shoes with hard soles helped me run better than the costlier pair of shoes with softer sole and I kept rotating shoes with hard and soft soles
  • I ensured I do most of my breathing through the nose. Yet, it is a really bad idea to run with a mask which is now mandatory due to covid19. For this, I would ensure, I mostly run around streets and places less frequented by people so that I take off my face mask.
  • Almost 18 days, I maintained by the Intermittent Fasting regime. Ideally, I Intermittent Fast almost every day.
  • I consumed more sprouts and nuts, daily than I usually do.
  • Every day, I kept my legs in warm water for a few minutes and then cold water and massaged my legs whenever I got the opportunity. I took a cold and hot shower ensuring the body gets relaxed.
  • I did stretching exercises before I would start running and even in between. The muscles need to be seasoned before the run.
  • I did not force my body beyond a certain level, any day. I knew I am new to running and the first 21 days, all I need to focus on is to ensure I go out and walk and eventually run to save time.

What did I learn?

  1. The beginning is tough. Like in any case, it is also exciting to begin, and sooner than you begin, doubt creeps in. This is the time you got to hang on. It takes about 3-5 days for the body to start taking your commands. Especially, after the first three days, it was all about commitment else I may have taken a break.
  2. I learned to let go of my fear and shyness to run on a busy road, any time of the day, under the scorching sun or drizzles. I let go of thinking about what would people think when they see me running. And practically, no one cares.
  3. I understood like any skill, running long distances will not happen in a small span of time. However, the possibility of a long journey begins only when we begin. You will have to be patient and progress slowly, be it speed, distance, or hours you spend running. You cannot overdo, any day.
  4. The challenge on our Indian roads is to run ensuring you do not hurt your feet. You need to select flat roads for minimum injuries.
  5. Running in the morning is much more challenging in humid weather but more satisfying as well. A runner should be comfortable running at any point of the day and hence you should run in the mornings as well as evenings.
  6. I also discovered, even if you are on intermittent fasting, OMAD, you can still run and walk 10 plus km without any issues. Running is better in a fasted state( at least 8 hours after the last meal).
  7. Running is fun. It should be a part of your daily routine or even thrice or twice a week. It is a good way to keep fit beyond doubts.
  8. Running and walking are two different things altogether. And walking long durations and distances prior to beginning running does not help much. Both have their pros and cons and I found it is better to run/jog 2 km than walking 5 km. Saves time develops more strength and stamina. Running, to me, is more satisfying.
  9. Running requires you to have the right food. I included bananas, sprouts, and nuts in my daily meals and this kept me going.

So what’s next?

I have continued running and would keep records of progress. The next 21 days would be dedicated to reaching 21 km of a run as many times possible. The goal is to be able to run above 10 km at length and keep sharing the experience and the progress.

I am excited as I am about to click the publish button and open to feedback, suggestions, criticisms, and applauds, alike. Please share your thoughts.